Starting the morning at Gloucester Rowing Club’s Spring Head, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Adaptive Squad its first outing at the season. On a 1750 metre course, the Stratford Boat Club swept the adaptive board winning both the singles and doubles/pairs events.
Andy Morris competing in his first event for the Club covered the course in a few seconds under ten minutes. Bennett from Stourport was second about twenty seconds behind. Holliday from Gloucester came in third.
The doubles/pairs events were a 1-2-3 for Stratford Boat Club’s Adaptive Squad. All the Club’s crews finished in between ten and eleven minutes. After time adjustments to compensate for varying levels of disability, the winners were Gillian Middleton with her support rower Rona Fitzpatrick. Ian Ward and his mother Paola finished second. Hattie Throssell and rowing partner Joe Moore were third. Jake Blatcher also had a good row in his single but suffered from cramp during the last kilometre of his 5000 metre race which sadly ruined his chances of success.
The Adaptive Squad now forms part of a new initiative at Stratford Boat Club – The Stratford Mixed Ability Rowing Team. This aims to integrate the adaptive squad with able-bodied people learning to row and the Club’s day time recreational groups. The Club is introducing this change slowly so that the best result is achieved for all concerned. The Adaptive Squad’s next event is a time trial at Henley-on-Thames on 3rd April.
Saturday morning at Gloucester Rowing Club’s Spring Head also saw a composite Stratford/Gloucester crew comprising Gary Clay and Kjersti Rogneflaten (representing Gloucester but also a Stratford member), racing as Masters F Mixed Double Scull event: they were up against stiff opposition from Upton and two Warwick crews from the start. With a strong head wind, the double settled into a strong rhythm and managed to overtake four women double scull crews who had set of ahead of them. The double then negotiated the tricky course and finished strongly to win by four seconds from Upton (the Scriveners, who joined forces with Stratford in the afternoon division).
Another Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters’ squad continued their competition in the 5km afternoon division of Gloucester Rowing Club Spring Head with Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty rowing with their Upton friends Tabatha and Julian Scrivenor in the mixed Masters’ fours event.
With a field of five crews of varying age groups from average age of under 30 up to 60, the race was always going to be keenly contested. The Stratford/Upton crew with an average age 55 to 60, lead off closely followed by Bristol Ariel average age 35 to 40.
The Ariel crew put immediate pressure on the Stratford/Upton crew who refused to give in and dug deep to keep Ariel behind them down the course. With tricky head wind conditions, Ariel were only able to close slowly with Stratford/Upton managing to keep them behind until the three kilometre mark, well over half way down the course.
At the approach to a narrow bridge, a well known feature of the course, Ariel managed to sneak past and establish a lead of less than a length going into the last 1.7km.
The Stratford/Upton crew continued to dig deep and hang on to Ariel knowing that a close finish would guarantee them a win on the races age group handicap system. Although Ariel pulled out to about a twenty second lead at the finish, it was not enough as Stratford/Upton were able to come home in second place with a significantly close overall time to take the race win.
Sadly, Stratford’s Junior Squad and King Edward The Sixth Boat Club had to make the best of the water on the Avon at Stratford as their West Midlands Rowing Championships at Stourport were cancelled as the River Severn was not viable for rowing.
For media coverage, see page fifty two and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-clubs-adaptive-squad-clean-up-at-gloucester-rowing-clubs-spring-head
For more great pictures of Gloucester Rowing Club’s Spring Head, see Matt Jones Photography’s selection at https://mattjonesphotography.photoshelter.com/gallery-collection/Gloucester-Spring-Head-2022/C0000DPSByeOde9o